Passing On Knowledge The Fun Way One Generation To Another

This week we have enjoyed spending time with a family  visiting T or C in their converted Greyhound bus that they've been living in for one year. The kids are home schooled though from what I can tell their lifestyle has world schooled them.

The other morning while hiking I talked with their daughter Atlee about what school was like for her when she was still in the system back in the Seattle area. She described an experience that matched my own when I was growing up even though for me junior high was 30+ years ago and in New York. She told me stories of girls competing based on clothing and ostracizing each other for being different. Atlee proudly told me that since leaving school the people she has met on the road are unique and she valued this. We've noticed that the homeschool kids we've worked with since living in New Mexico out shine those schooled by the system in attention span, creative thinking, idea generation and interest in learning. I brought Atlee over to our friend Jeannie's place today to see her looms, and other textile arts. It was a match! In typical T or C and small town fashion, each generation shares with the one behind it.

3 Sizes And No Bull

I've always enjoyed a sport. I windsurfed for years, roller bladed, and I swam every chance I was given. No sport has been as body changing as running. I've run 231 miles since Feb 4th, which has dropped me three sizes in clothing. I lost ten pounds, and I probably gained  more than that in muscle. My ass transformed into calves which are now like piston pumps. But what I'm most impressed by is my heart which which has become a very different kind of efficient blood pumping and oxygen delivering system. I feel this when I am walking and hiking. Even my resting heart rate has dropped significantly. I am strong from running in a way no other sport has provided. A heart rate monitor helps me to monitor my heart's development.  A strengthened heart will benefit me the whole of my life.

I cut my morning run short at 5 miles because there was a bull in my way. Mikey runs with them but I find them super scary and totally unpredictable so I let this one turn me around. He was hanging out just past the goats we run with who were zig zagging along a cliff's side. He was blocking the road that I needed to run up in order to run farther and the fence meant to stop them was down. I let the tree full of vultures that was right across the road from this scene stop me. A foreshadowing of could have been in store for me and Sesame.  ARG!
(last image: a scrap I keep near my computer with my measurements for sizing clothes when ordering on line. )


Garlic Bulbils

I'm still sitting on a large stock of garlic bulbis from the garlic that went to seed while I was on my book tour. I figured that by now they'd be dry and ready for grinding into a garlic powder but no. I'm going to have to put these out in a solar oven for a while or stick em in a dehydrator. Their ability to maintain moisture has me thinking they're real keepers, they've outlasted my full sized garlic bulbs.

Stucco Repair The Thing About Color

Now that our papercrete wall is stucco'd it's time to repair stucco cracks. Having no experience with stucco I researched the process online and choose a method that uses a silicone that can be painted over followed by a thin layer of stucco. My only complaint is that in spite of my having used the exact stucco that the wall was done with (an extra bag left over from that job), the colors do not match.

Lunar Eclipse and The Hot Spring Advantage

You may recall that in Wendy's book she lists staying up all night to watch astral events as one of the reasons to not have a job. We did just that... an allnighter in our Hot Spring with friends to enjoy a stunning total lunar eclipse. It was worth staying up until 4am. We had originally planned to go hiking for the eclipse but a drop in temps and running injuries kept us local. The hot tub is hard to beat for watching astronomical events on a chilly night.Lunar Eclipse


Vintage Bonkers

I go to a lot of yard sales. My home is composed of what I find there. Sometimes I make a couple of bucks selling my finds on ebay and this gesture prevents me from the risk of being a hoarder. I don't collect. Objects move through me. I consider myself a rescuer of things heading for landfill.

Last week I found myself mesmerized by a pair of gold painted birds from the 50s. Was I having some kind of flash back? Were these at my grandma's in the Bronx and my subconscious mind, having remembered them, went into some kind of pleasure overdrive? I had to have them in spite of the layers of dust, chipped paint and high price considering what they are. I pad six bucks for the pair and took them home figuring I'd put them on ebay or something.

I find myself unable to part with them and yet they go against everything I know about myself. They're ornate without any function, a category I don't gather and keep. They're ridiculously grandam too. Since they've been with me they've inspired me to start a painting, yes featuring at least one of them. Then I thought of a series based on them. I moved them from a to be listed on ebay pile to my desk. I wonder if a dust based vintage minded parasite has moved in to my brain making me unable to part with them. Ahhhhh!

Swap-O-Rama-Rama San Mateo, CA (Bay Area) Open Call for Volunteers

Friends, it is time again for the biggest annual used clothing and DIY orgy, an event I call Swap-O-Rama-Rama, in northern California. This is the biggest Swap-O-Rama-Rama of them all and features a 6,000 sq foot tent at the Maker Faire.

If your in the area and wish to offer a workshop, teaching something you love, help people sew, or just sort clothes and help in a general way, contact Erin. If you just wanna come and have fun, save the date.

Greasy Cleanup

Greasy Cleanup by mikey and wendy
Greasy Cleanup, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

We are just about to resume running our VW on biodiesel this year. I've been waiting for the last cold front to pass so that we don't need to worry about hard starting. Tomorrow night will be in the mid-30's and then we should be clear. This spring has been cooler than most and I'm thankful to not have the sun blasting down on us just yet.

Montrail - FluidFlex

Montrail - FluidFlex by mikey and wendy
Montrail - FluidFlex, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

I am breaking in my next pair of running shoes. My Brooks Cascadia 7's are just about out of tread. They were a great shoe, but a little stiff in areas. These Montrail Fluidflex have the idea weight and cushion I'm looking for. I'm not thrilled about them being dark in color which can lead to hot feet in the summer. The Fluidflex have a super light mesh that breaths well and makes me think that heat might not be a issue. The only downside I've noticed with the Montrails are that they grab high on my ankle. I'm hoping that part softens up with use.


Holy Scrap Artisanal Tour - Thumbs Up!

Holy Scrap Artisanal TourFor years Mikey and I have struggled trying to figure out a way to host people at our home. We have is constant requests to visit. If we answered each with a yes, we'd spend the whole of our lives giving one-on-one tours to people we'll likely never see again. Instead we default to saying no to everyone and so we miss out on meeting some really great folks and sharing what we're doing with people who care to know about it.

This weekend our friends Michael and Dimid included us in a new Artisanal Tour of Sierra County that they developed. It featured four properties including our own as well as lunches, and mixers in the evening to connect those who joined the tour. Each day this weekend a group of about ten people, led by one of them acting as a guide, came to our home for a 1.5 hours.

Sometimes giving tours can be depleting. But due to the well planned efforts of our tour directors these visits were invigorating. Mikey and I were able to share what we have and then sit with our visitors for questions and engage in exciting discussions about lifestyle. We actually had a chance to get to know people. On Saturday, when I found a note in mailbox left by a woman who had read my book, was in town, and hoped to connect, I had a place to guide her to. She joined the tour! How wonderful.

Holy Scrap Artisanal TourIt can be hard to see and understand a town like Truth or Consequences. One really needs a guide. The business hours are weird, much of the socializing is behind doors and fences. There's stuff to do but one must know how to find it. The lucky folks who took this tour now have a very wonderful, warm, view of Sierra County, one they could never have had otherwise. Sparks were ignited. For me, I delighted in shifting my posture from retracting - a response to being overwhelmed and feeling cornered - to opening due to having a sane way to interact with people. Yay for Artisanal Tours!

If you are interested in joining one of these tours in the future, send an email to Dimid and get on his list.

Gotta Save These Leeks

Leeks have the reputation of being fancy. This has to do with their long grow time. One must wait, and wait! The reward is large. My mom used to say, "when it rains it pours." This seems an apt expression as my garden's many rows of leeks put up scapes and prepare to flower. "I'm not ready" was today's mantra. Then I began chopping, vacuuming and freezing them. Oh and cooking them too. A risotto used up about four plus some home made cheese. Tomorrow I make my first potato leek soup.


The Lifelessness of A Life Managing System

Due to the Obama healthcare reform I am more a part of "the system" than I have been in years. I have health insurance that covers more than catastrophic events. This seemed the right time to find out why I have persistent annoyances like reflux. I went to the doctor to see what I could find out.

On my first call I was asked if I'd like to see a nurse instead of a doctor. By doing so my appointment will be weeks sooner. "Sure," I said and off I went days later. Upon arriving I noticed the system first thing. Three cubicles met me once inside the door. Mexican woman each around 30 waited inside them. I slid into cube 1 and answered a series of questions which one of them fingered into a computer before sending me into a waiting room where I was to pick a ticket with a number on it, much like one does in deli's in New York. My number called I progressed to three more cubicles manned by three more Mexican women around 30. I answered additional questions that were fingered into a computer and then once in a room with the nurse I explained my symptoms all the while noticing that she typed every word into a computer that was the only object in the room besides the furniture. She never looked up.

When she did finally look at me, no more than once or twice, she appeared frightened. I wondered why as I told her that my diet of fermented foods, garden picked veggie juices and unprocessed foods had me surprised that I suffered from reflux, an acid imbalance in the stomach. She had no idea what I was talking about. Then she became animated and engaged in our conversation as she explained that though at one time taking one type of prescription drug meant you could not take another this had changed and today I could take the most popular two drugs if I spaced them apart. I told her that I don't wish to take any drugs. With a startled, wide eyed, expression she looked at me then started typing again. I asked what she thought of the popular theory that reflux was the result of too little stomach acid. She looked at again seeming frightened and said nothing. She typed. I studied a poster on the wall that described disease of the stomach.

Moments later she handed me a piece of paper, a referral to get a test done the next day. "Oh good I thought, data." That night I read forms she gave me, "Ohhh I said to my mom (I was staying at her home for the night), I am going to be put to sleep for this procedure," and I began to worry. The next morning I arrived at the address on the form and was surprised by what followed. I was taken into a hospital like room, hooked up to an IV and a bunch of monitors and asked if I had a medical directive while being given a form to sign giving a doctor I'd never met permission to preform surgery on me if he should puncture my stomach while I was under anesthesia. I agreed to the endoscopy thinking that this was what I wanted insurance for, data. I'd choose my treatment once I had the facts.

From a hospital bed, wired up with tubes, an IV, some stuff stuck to my chest I met with several more typing Mexican women and off I went wheeled into a room that contained a doctor that said hello but never turned to me as he was busy adjusting a machine. A woman named Olive stuffed some oxygen dispensing tubing up my nose and turned to yet anther machine which she checked a couple of times. Then in the middle of my asking Olive a question everything went black. When I awoke I a doctor was showing me a picture of the inside of my stomach. Next memory I was in the car with my mom who was driving me to her house where I sat and wondered for a while how it could be that I had spent two days visiting doctors and the people who I spoke with were mainly Mexican women who typed my data into the system, a doctor that spoke at me only while I was on a sedative too high to understand him, and a nurse that I seem to have frightened by speaking about nutrition and diet. The human energy that had been spent around me in the two days was mainly applied to machines and computers and not to people. The system supports itself before those who move through it. It tracks and bills. It follows the movement of living creatures through a dead system. It gathers data and matches it to possible outcomes based on probabilities that are expressed in the form of prescriptions, tests, and procedures.

The next day seemingly magically my phone rang and a nurse I'd never heard of asked how I was doing. When I told her I felt weird and my temperature was 94 she said "well let us know if you get a high fever." Then I went on line and read that a temp of 94 is life threatening. A low temp was not listed as an alert for the procedure that I had. We hung up.

Today I wondered what I got from this experience. I got data. I know that I don't have a bunch of awful things like cancer and h-pylori. I don't know anything more about why I have the discomfort that sent me to the doctor in the first place. I have not learned anything. I don't feel cared for. In fact people hardly acknowledged me. Most were staring at machines while I was with them. I got a prescription that if I should I rely on it will reduce my body's ability to break down proteins in the future.

I can see that the system works well at maintaining itself. It's existence (if you can call it that) is important. Mine on the other hand seems secondary. I am a thing of categories for which the system offers a preprogrammed answers. When I went back to the nurse I said, "since I still don't know why I have this, can I be tested for food allergies?" She typed. She handed me a piece of paper, instructions to go to a lab and be tested for lactose intolerance. "What about nutrition?" I asked. You'll have to go to a nutritionist for that. Not once did she mention diet, or share any knowledge with me about what I came in for. I still don't know what reflux actually is. Telling me did not link up to an action: a referral, a test, a prescription. It did not serve the system. While I'm no smarter for having gone to the doc or for spending two days engaged in grueling and even life threatening tests, I have seen the inside of my stomach which was kinda cool. I think that putting a purring cat on my belly for the duration of a nap would have produced better results. I'd feel better at least in the emotional sense as a living creature it always feels good when I connect to life.


Hot crops

Hot crops by mikey and wendy
Hot crops, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

I just started our first 15 trays of hot crops. We like to grow tomatoes, melons, basil, mint, peppers and okra. We won't be able to eat most of these plants until August.

Spring Makes Thing Better

Our yards winter look of dry death is slowly getting a makeover from the warm spring temperatures. Tomorrow looks like it will be 86F with full sun. That will be a scorcher for us.


See You At Naropa

As a sampler, here's a clip from a piece by Charles Eisenstien, one of the presenters at an event I'm attending at Naropa in Boulder, CO this weekend. If your in the neighborhood, consider attending. 
"Here are some ways to put a human being in a cage:

  • Remove as far as possible all opportunities for meaningful self-expression and service. Instead, coerce people into dead-end labor just to pay the bills and service the debts. Seduce others into living off such labor of others.
  • Cut people off from nature and from place. At most let nature be a spectacle or venue for recreation, but remove any real intimacy with the land. Source food and medicine from thousands of miles away.
  • Move life – especially children's lives – indoors. Let as many sounds as possible be manufactured sounds, and as many sights be virtual sights.
  • Destroy community bonds by casting people into a society of strangers, in which you don't rely on and needn't even know by name the people living around you.
  • Create constant survival anxiety by making survival depend on money, and then making money artificially scarce. Administer a money system in which there is always more debt than there is money.
  • Divide the world up into property, and confine people to spaces that they own or pay to occupy.
  • Replace the infinite variety of the natural and artisanal world, where every object is unique, with the sameness of commodity goods.
  • Reduce the intimate realm of social interaction to the nuclear family and put that family in a box. Destroy the tribe, the village, the clan, and the extended family as a functioning social unit.
  • Make children stay indoors in age-segregated classrooms in a competitive environment where they are conditioned to perform tasks that they don't really care about or want to do, for the sake of external rewards.
  • Destroy the local stories and relationships that build identity, and replace them with celebrity news, sports team identification, brand identification, and world views imposed by authority.
  • Delegitimize  or illegalize folk knowledge of how to heal and care for one another, and replace it with the paradigm of the “patient” dependent on medical authorities for health."

  • IMAGE from Findhorn Foundation Site
  • Swap-O-Rama-Rama Central America

    If you should be in Costa Rica. . .  feel free to jump in! 


    Guest on Special 100th Episode The Higherside Chats - Listen

    I was honored when host Greg Carlwood asked me if I would return to his show The Higherside Chats and be a part of a 100th episode featuring his favorite guests. Of course I said yes and I brought Mikey along for fun. Have a listen.


    Apache Kid Wilderness Backpacking - Meyer's Spring Loop

    Mikey, Sesame and I spent the weekend backpacking the nearby Apache Wilderness with friends Jeannie and Kyle.

    We further tested our gear and ourselves as we prep for a summer of backpacking the pacific northwest. My pack weight is down to 25 lbs with food and water and that includes a tent. Mikey's is slightly higher. We were all proud of Sesame for being able to wear a pack and carry her water and food.

    Notable events include our friend Kyle finding both Meyers and Nave springs. My first scree field which I was grateful to be able to skirt and not climb down. We poked around Meyers cabin which I imagine has been standing for about 100 years. Our total elevation climb in two days was 4,500 feet over a distance of 12 miles. Our sous vide breakfast omelet and the indian food our friends cooked for dinner were both fantastic and I learned to bake nan over coals.

    Really, Spam?

    Sometimes I can't believe that someone is not playing a practical joke on me.


    See You in Boulder: Naropa Events

    I am delighted to be participating in a 150 person conversation taking place at Naropa University in Boulder, Co. next week. While the weekend long event is private, there are two related public events that worth checking out if you are in the area.  

    The hosted of these events are the Global Peace Initiative of Women and Contemplative Alliance. Check out the public event Friday night and Saturday night. Perhaps I will see you there.